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Horse won't trot...is he lame?

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  • Horse won't trot...is he lame?

    I am at my wit’s end and need some help. Have you ever seen a horse that won’t trot? Well I have one. He goes straight from walk to lope. 2 ½ year old gelding that has just started training. He has been there 2 weeks now.

    Ok so here is his history. I bought him in late August from a big show barn. They raised and showed him as a weanling and yearling. At that point the owner got sick and the horses pretty much had a year off. Then he decided to downsize and sell a bunch of his stallions. He seemed like a reputable breeder/owner and had some really nice horses. So I bought a horse from him. He is beautiful. I got him gelded and let him have a month off in the pasture to heal up. When I started trying to work him I immediately noticed he wouldn’t trot and just really wasn’t interested in working. I took him to the vet for a lameness check. They xrayed his feet and used the hoof testers and the diagnosis was thin soles. They did flexion tests and everything—nothing else was found. So I put shoes on him and put him in the pasture for 6 weeks. I then took him back to the vet for a follow up lameness check. The vet said he was completely sound. So I took him to the trainer. The horse will not trot. Even in small circles he can manage to lope slow enough. He also much prefers his left lead to this right which could potentially be a red flag. The trainer wasn’t too concerned at first but is not beginning to wonder if he is hurting somewhere. Even in the pasture he will run and buck but not trot. I am debating taking him to the vet for the THIRD time, but I just can’t afford another mis-diagnosis. Maybe he needs a chiropractor? A specialist? I just have no idea. I need some ideas. I have sunk a lot of money into this horse. Obviously I don’t want to keep him in training if he is hurting or if it could make it worse. And I definitely don’t want to spend another several hundred at the vet for them to tell me nothing is wrong again.

    I have videos I could send of him travelling in both directions in a round pen if anyone thinks they might be able to help me figure this one out.

  • #2
    What kind of horse is he?


    • Original Poster

      Oh, he is a Paint. Halter/performance bred...about 15.2 and 1100 pounds


      • #4
        If you had lots of time, and money, I bet this is the sort of thing that a really good bodywork person could make some progress with. There may not be a "lameness," per se, but obviously there's something about moving his body at the trot that has been/still is uncomfortable for him. I've known horses who do a couple of canter steps instead of a trot transition, but eventually come back to trot, and those horses usually have some sort of weakness/soreness behind that makes stepping evenly into the trot uncomfortable. If he prefers his left lead, I'd be looking at the left hind.


        • #5
          Does he trot in turnout at all? If not I would imagine there is soreness somewhere but I wouldn't know where to start to look. Trying to picture how the vet did flexion tests on a horse that won't trot since that is pretty mandatory.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            You didn't mention trotting in hand... how is he in that case? He's shown halter, you know he can trot in hand.

            I agree it's very likely something hurts somewhere, but who knows - he could just be in a strange balance phase or something.

            I know it's not how it's done in breed land, but I'd plan on giving him until he's at least 3 anyway for his long term health and work on figuring out what's wrong following the suggestions in this thread.
            If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


            • #7
              Me also. Little confused, the vet had to be able to get him trotting if they did a flexion test on him. If he didn't trot then that flexion test means nothing really in a walk or canter.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • Original Poster

                The vet said they had him trotting. I wasn't there. I have trotted him in hand but it doesn't last long. He can actually lope slow enough to lope in hand so that is usually what he will try to do. I have seen him trot once or twice in the pasture but mostly he runs when he is out there. He was shown in halter so I know he must have trotted then. Given the choice he will take his left lead. What foot would that point to? Left hind?


                • #9
                  I would look into PSSM/EPSM or upward fixation of the patella. I have a WB who will NOT trot when he is out of shape due to upward fixation of the patella. Once he builds his quadriceps back up he is fine to trot again.

                  My friend has a QH/TB cross who was just diagnosed with PSSM (also known as EPSM depending on type of horse) and her horse did exactly what yours is doing. Would NOT trot. He would walk and pick up a slow canter but would not trot under saddle, on the lunge, or out in the field. He eats lots of oil now and is trotting around just fine. Both of these options could be very likely for your horse since he is negative to flexions.

                  If both of those check out negative then I would look at the SacroIliac Joint.


                  • #10
                    I would suggest two things, a different trainer, and a different vet.

                    Either one could be missing something.

                    I would also do a little research into his pedigree.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • #11
                      Did he trot before he was gelded? If he did, I suppose there could be some sort of scar tissue or adhesion that makes it uncomfortable for him to trot.

                      If you dose him up with bute or banamine or previcox for a few days, does he trot?

                      If he is happier to take the left lead, that would be indicative of an issue with the left hind, although preferring a side is really not unusual AT ALL in a young horse and that would not raise red flags for me.


                      • #12
                        It could be lameness related or maybe he just needs to be trained how to trot. Will he trot on the lounge? Can you trot him under saddle. I wonder what would happen if he was given some ace and then put on the lounge.


                        • Original Poster

                          He hasn't been ridden yet but was just about to start. I'm picking him up from the trainer tomorrow and taking him to a vet that specializes in lameness. I will update when I get home. Thanks for all of your answers. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dwblover View Post
                            I would look into PSSM/EPSM or upward fixation of the patella. I have a WB who will NOT trot when he is out of shape due to upward fixation of the patella. Once he builds his quadriceps back up he is fine to trot again.
                            I've seen this too. Horse couldn't trot because of the stifles. Had to walk and canter for a few months- two I think- before the muscles were strong enough to trot. Would try to trot a step or two, and then tranter (under tack). This horse was backed though. Could walk and canter just fine. Horse just needed more muscles.
                            Unrepentant carb eater


                            • #15
                              I'm gonna say yes, lame.

                              And I agree try a different vet, and a different trainer, just for the hell of it.

                              When I got my mare last spring, she Would Not Trot. Walk, sure. Canter, sure. She'd reduce it down to this little teeny lope too. Trot, forget it. I could sometimes get her to trot a few steps but she was clearly uncomfortable, nose in the air, inverted, not tracking up. She is an OTTB but had been off the track for 2 years at that point, though she'd been out of work all winter and stalled with not much turnout, and on a high sugar diet.

                              Obviously this is anecdotal and I am not sure any one thing was the magic bullet, but this is what I did: I gave her a few weeks off. Treated her for ulcers, put her on a very low starch diet, and put her on MagRestore. Had her shod in front and addressed the High/Low she had going on there. Then started riding her, but just walking.... a lot. Asking her to stretch it out, then collect, halt, baby lateral work. Started working her on the longe line, walk and trot, biiiig circles. Transitions, then side reins. I taught her voice commands and she is totally clear and reliable on those, which has helped a ton also.

                              Eventually her trot came back under saddle, and now it is quite good. Still short on her RH occasionally, but not sure anyone but me notices now. I shod her in back about 2 months ago and that has helped considerably. Next time the chiro is around, I will have her looked at, but she is 10x better now than she ever was, and she's in regular work.

                              I have had the vet involved all along but my vet couldn't really pinpoint a specific issue. So, I tried hard to tweak my management and routine to see how good I could get her by building muscle, addressing her nutrition, and getting the farrier involved.

                              So I would say it could be either, training or lameness, but my bet is he's sore somewhere and protecting himself. I'd start with his feet. I am certain my horse was footsore enough that it was throwing everything else out of whack and making her really body sore.

                              Good luck...
                              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                              • Original Poster

                                Ok, just left the vet. A highly recommended lameness vet two hours away. Couldn't find anything! 13 X-rays, feet blocked, flexing tests, and they had a chiropractor who adjusted him. Nothing. I suggested pssm but he said he really didn't think that was it. He agreed that it looked weird. He suggested 2 grams of bute twice a day for 2 1/2 days. Then work him to see if it changes. If it does, he must be in pain. If not, I guess nothing? If he is in pain and the bute works, I'll take him for thermal imaging next week.


                                • #17

                                  Was the vet able to make the horse trot?


                                  • #18
                                    Try the bute test. For all your spending with no real answers I would almost be inclined to do a bone scan. But I guess just try to teach him to trot, he is either going to improve or a problem is going to become more apparent. What happens if he is asked to canter forward instead of doing a lope would he tire and become willing to trot? Or have you tried lounging in side reins?


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Yes he did trot some. More than I'd ever seen. But he still wanted to lope. The vet thought it was very strange. Luckily he discounted the X-rays 50%. He was doing X-rays on everything hoping to find it. Feet to shoulder on front. Feet, hock, stifle on back. Withers too. All flexing tests were negative. He even did a neurological exam which was normal. He definitely agreed something looked off in his gait.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mrg8302 View Post
                                        He definitely agreed something looked off in his gait.
                                        Wait--isn't the very definition of "lameness" "something is off in the gait"? Sounds like the vet felt the horse was lame but was not able to pinpoint where with the flexions and radiographs...?

                                        I hope the bute test sheds some light.

                                        I would also be very curious about the gelding procedure and if there is scar tissue there that is making the horse uncomfortable. Maybe an ultrasound of the area would be useful?

                                        Have you considered a bone scan?